Most birders go to Sichuan in May or June, and with good reason. There is little information on the Internet about birding in Sichuan outside of the May-June window, making a March trip particularly fun since every day came with an element of surprise. Not surprising, however, was a near total lack of migrant passerines, so Sichuan’s famous leaf-warblers and bush-warblers were very scarce—I only saw three species of Phylloscopus and one bush-warbler. Additionally, many birds were still at their wintering elevations, not yet having gone back to their higher summering areas.
The weather was quite cold for the most part with a couple days of snowy conditions at higher elevations, but no rain. On the Tibetan Plateau the temperature rarely (if ever) got above 0ºC, whereas at Wannian Temple, Emei Shan the temperature got to about 15ºC during the afternoon after cool mornings. Fog caused problems at Balang Shan, but otherwise weather conditions were quite good for birding. Deciduous trees were just beginning to bud, but didn’t yet have leaves—the buds seemed to be an important food source for finches.
Some photos from my trip can be seen on my blog (oxypogon.blogspot.com).
Many thanks to my Tropical Birding colleagues Sam Woods for copious and detailed information about birding the region and Nick Athanas for providing sound recordings. For excellent guided trips (and trip reports) to Sichuan and elsewhere in Asia, see www.tropicalbirding.com. Trip reports by Bjorn Anderson and Frank Rheindt from www.travellingbirder.com and www.surfbirds.com were also very helpful in the preparation of the trip. Thanks to Sichuan Overseas Tourist Co. for funding the trip and providing me with two great guides, “Maggie” Qiu Hong and “Ginseng” Chen Yang, and an excellent, experienced driver, Mr. He.
March 2: Chengdu.
Today was the first of two days spent birding the Chengdu area. It turned out to be a great day, with two huge avian surprises: a Baer’s Pochard and Slaty Bunting.
We started the morning in a city park along the Fulin River, 100 Flowers Park (Bai Huan Tai). I got my first taste of Chinese birding, including the abundant White-browed Laughingthrush and Chinese (Light-vented) Bulbul, my first sample of Sichuan Phylloscopus warblers with an Ashy-throated Warbler (in rather different surrounding to the top of Doi Inthanon in Thailand where I saw the species in December) and a couple others that I took to be Lemon-rumped (Sichuan) Leaf-Warblers and my first views of the remarkable diversity of tits in the region, with five species in a matter of minutes: Black-throated, Great, Yellow-bellied, Yellow-browed and Coal. Chinese (Yellow-billed) Grosbeaks were common in the park, showing extensive blue in the wing not illustrated in the China field guide.
We then moved on to 10,000 Bamboo Park (also called Washing Flower Park or Huan Hua Shi). Similar birds were showing here, but also included an Ashy-throated Parrotbill (only Vinous-throated was seen at the previous park), though the Chengdu ornithologist I was with indicated the two may be hybridizing in the area. A Green Sandipiper and a Common Kingfisher were in the reed-fringed channels and a Little Bunting popped up in the area as well.
After lunch we made our way to a new man-made lake outside of town in Century City, across the street from the Holiday Inn and the new Expo Center. A flock of 65 ducks was present, mostly Ferruginous Ducks with a handful of Tufted Ducks, single female Eurasian Wigeon and Common Pochard and, best of all, a male Baer’s Pochard thrown in. Apparently up to three Baer’s had been present at the site for a month and represented the first record for Chengdu. A walk into the weeds behind the lake revealed a couple Buff-throated Warblers and a Common Buzzard. While we were at the lake, a Little Bunting got me asking about wintering buntings in the area, and the local ornithologist mentioned that Slaty Buntings were wintering at the Chengdu Botanical Gardens, would I like to go?
Off we went to the Chengdu Botantical Gardens, located on the highest hill in town. After only a short walk we heard the distinctive sharp tsit of Slaty Buntings and soon we had excellent views of a male and a female of the much-sought species. Apparently up to 20 had been seen during the winter. The trees above the buntings were alive with Bramblings and Oriental (Grey-capped) Greenfinches. On the other side of the hill we visited a scrubby area that yielded some nice wintering birds: a Yellow-throated Bunting and Daurien and Blue-fronted Redstarts.
March 3: Chengdu.
We spent another day in the area surrounding Chengdu. As I wanted to digiscope yesterday’s Baer’s Pochard, we stopped first at the Century City Lake. Scanning the flock of Ferruginous Ducks I realized there were no Tufted Ducks and scanning further it appeared as though the Baer’s Pochard had left with them. The number of Ferruginous Ducks was also down slightly from the previous day (55 yesterday, 46 today).
We then moved further from town birding along the Duck River (Yadzi He), about 40 km north of Chengdu. Despite the abused state of the river there were lots of birds in the section we birded including good numbers and variety of ducks. Present in relatively large numbers numbers were Ruddy Shelduck, Spot-billed Duck, Gadwall and Common Teal and in smaller numbers Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Red-crested Pochard, Common Merganser and Tufted Duck. A few waders were present including Common Snipe and a single Temminck’s Stint. Winter-plumaged Rosy Pipits littered the riverbed with at least one larger, paler bird amongst them, possibly a Richard’s Pipit.
After lunch we visited the Panda Breeding Center and added a number of new species, including a beautiful Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Green-backed Tit, a White-throated Laughingthrush in with a group of White-broweds and a few Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babblers. An Ashy-throated Parrotbill showed nicely in a flock of Vinous-throateds, showing a pale iris unlike the dark eye illustrated in the field guide.
March 4: Chengdu to Wolong.
The drive from Chengdu to Wolong was uneventful. We only made one stop for birding before reaching the Panda Center, when I saw a Plumbeous Water Redstart. Getting out, we soon found a Little Forktail and pair of White-throated Dippers in the same stretch of river. We stopped for lunch at the Panda Center, where a Gray-faced (Gray-headed) Woodpecker and pair of Eurasian Nuthatches were in the parking lot and a Spotted Laughingthrush was working the hillside scrub.
Arriving in Sawan (the village in Wolong), we dropped our bags off and hit the trails. Unfortunately this afternoon was going to be my only chance to bird Wolong. The best plan to start hiking might be to head straight up from behind the hotel where the pole is at the end of the power lines; this is where we descended. Climb up onto the stone wall, then take the path that goes up and to the left (there is another that goes straight up); this is probably the quickest way to get into forest. Following this path is where we eventually found Golden Pheasant. Getting up and down the slope behind the town is very steep, but once up there the walking is fairly easy if you can find a trail. The ‘traditional’ way to get up in a couple hundred meters down the valley where a series of steps have been cut into the slope; this way is not at all forested and from here its quite difficult to find any good trails into the forest.
The forest was exceptionally quiet except for finding an excellent mixed flock. Most numerous in the flock was Collared Finchbill, with about 40 present. Also with the flock were Gray-headed Bullfinch, Gray-crested and Rufous-vented Tits, a Black-faced Laughingthrush in a flock of the common Elliot’s, a lone Streak-throated Fulvetta, White-collared Yuhina and Chestnut Thrush. We found an open area to descend back to town when we were directly above the Wolong Hotel and eventually ran into a narrow but clear path along a power line. We decided to follow the path before continuing downslope and we soon came across and dismantled three pheasant traps. Only perhaps thirty meters further I heard scurrying in the underbrush and put my binoculars up to see two female Golden Pheasants!
We then descended the rest of the way and walked along the forest edge behind the hotel, finding a few birds including a surprising Chinese Babax as well as further Gray-headed Bullfinch and Black-throated Laughingthrush.
5 March: Balang Shan to Maerkang.
We were disappointed to arrive at Balang Shan’s famous monument and subsequently at the roadmenders’ huts at km 92 only to find it completely fogged in and the road severely iced over. We stopped at the roadmenders’ huts and walked up and down the road in the fog. It was virtually silent and few birds were about. We did see a close male Three-banded Rosefinch; the only other bird identified was an Elliot’s Laughingthrush hopping about in the snow.
We continued up the pass, emerging from the fog at 3700m. I excitedly got out of the car and walked along the road, but after ten minutes (and before I could find a bird!) the fog caught up with us. A little higher it was clear again and would remain mostly clear all the way to the pass. Unfortunately there were very few birds around. Birds seen before reaching the pass itself were Red-billed and Yellow-billed Choughs and a flock of about 30 mountain finches, surprisingly made up of about mostly Bradt’s (Black-headed) Mountain Finch with just a couple Plain Mountain Finch. A lone Blue Sheep provided a nice diversion. The pass proper was bitterly cold and quite windy and a walk yielded no birds.
Two large flocks of Snow Pigeons livened things up on the other side of the pass, and we stopped where the road meets a stream and there are a couple white buildings. It turned out to be a birdy spot, with White-browed Rosefinch, Rufous-breasted Accentor, White-throated Redstart and Black-browed Tit.
The rest of the drive to Maerkang was fairly uneventful. A Giant Laughingthrush was a nice addition in some roadside scrub as were Hill Pigeons on a cliff face and we found an excellent mixed flock in the beautiful primeval forest on the Maerkang side of Bengmi Pass. Most of what it contained I has seen earlier, but new additions included Songar Tit, Bar-tailed Treecreeper and White-winged Grosbeak. The most common bird in the flock was Rufous-vented Tit and it was nice to have superb views of male and female White-browed Rosefinch.
6 March: Maerkang to Hongyuan.
A rainy night made me wonder what it would be like where we were heading this morning, and sure enough we showed up at Zhegu Mountain to see it covered in a fresh 10cm of snow. It was a stunningly beautiful setting for birding, but the road was only passable so far. We birded elevations first from 3500-3600m then back down to the main Maekang-Hongyuan road at about 3300m.
When we arrived it was still semi-dark (soon after stopping a police car pulled up behind us to make sure we weren’t hunting), but a calling Koklass Pheasant drew me from the warmth of the car. I couldn’t coax it out with playback, so I started walking up the road, soon bumping into White-browed and Three-banded Rosefinches, Songar Tit and Gray-headed Bullfinch. A dark bird perched on a distant dead snag got my attention, but its identity didn’t become apparent until it flew—it’s woodswallow-like flight and blue plumage gave it away, a Grandala! Not long after a large dark bird flew onto the road in front of me joining a few others. I quickly got a scope on them—Koklass Pheasants! There weren’t tons of birds around, but there were some good ones. After nearly getting stuck in the snow, we turned around and headed down.
There were several flocks of rosefinches feeding on the road where the snow had melted, most common was White-browed, also present were Streaked and what I think were Pink-rumped. A couple Godlewski’s Buntings and Rufous-breasted Accentors were with them. One flock was scared off by an unidentified Accipiter. It was a bit strange seen Elliot’s and Giant Laughingthrushes and Streak-throated Fulvettas hopping around in the snow. A flock of about 60 Kessler’s Thrushes passed overhead, with a few kind enough to land in the tree tops allowing nice looks.
Eventually we made out way off the mountain and continued on towards the Tibetan Plateau (stopping at the police station to report the hunters who had jumped into the bushes as we approached while heading down the mountain). Just before the pass a Lammergeier flew past so close I could see its beard without binoculars; getting out of the car revealed a few Himalayan Griffons overhead. A Northern Lapwing was flushed from along the river. A Chinese Gray Shrike, the first of three for the afternoon, and a young Golden Eagle welcomed us to the Tibetan Plateau just beyond the pass.
We stopped in the village of Longriba so I could try to photograph the numerous Daurien Jackdaws present. I was mostly unsuccessful, in large part because I was distracted by all the other birds present. Among the Dauriens was a young one with its all dark plumage, a plumage that turned out to be fairly numerous (thanks to Richard Klim for correcting my itinitial misidentification as Eurasian Jackdaw). A House Sparrow, also out of range according to the range map, was with the flock of Tree Sparrows. Although those megas tried to steal the show, they couldn’t do it with Plain (Pere David’s) Laughingthrush and both Robin and Brown Accentors showing brilliantly. A flock of Plain Mountain Finches contained a single Black-winged (Tibetan) Snowfinch. Azure-winged Magpies kept their distance from the abundant Eurasian Magpies, Daurien Jackdaws and Large-billed Crows. A Black-eared Kite passed overhead. Ruddy Shelduck and Common Teal were surely recent arrivals.
The next couple of settlements held more Robin Accentors and my first starling of any kind for the trip, a European, perhaps also out of range. A stop to look at a Chinese Gray Shrike yielded a male Hen Harrier and we encountered several large groups of Twite. We arrived in Hongyuan to find out that our hotel had no running water—it was frozen.
7 March: Hongyuan to Ruoergai.
We awoke this morning to a fresh dusting of snow and bitter cold. The mountains surrounding the town that yesterday had been snow-capped this morning were snow-covered making for very dramatic surroundings. We spent the first hour of daylight birding around town, including a scrubby area at the south end of town. Kessler’s Thrush was common, even hopping around on sidewalks in town and singing from television antennas. We encountered a flock that was typical of most scrubby areas we went through in the Tibetan Plateau, with Robin Accentor, Great (Japanese) Tit, Azure-winged Magpie and Plain (Pere David’s) Laughingthrush. It also held a Eurasian Treecreeper. Also in the area were two Dark-throated Thrushes of the rufous-throated race ruficollis (we would see two more along the drive). A flock of Eurasian Jackdaws flew over, the first of two flocks during the day.
We stopped just beyond the town of Waqie when we noticed some waterfowl in the river. Present were Ruddy Shelduck, Common Teal, Mallard and Common Merganser. A Graylag Goose later joined them. A magnificent adult White-tailed Eagle came and landed on the riverbank before taking off and soaring overhead, putting on a great show. A breeding plumaged adult Brown-headed Gull flew over heading north, perhaps towards its breeding colony. Our first pair of the brilliant and charismatic Hume’s Groundpecker (Ground Tit) was very confiding along the side of the road here. They would become especially common after we entered the hills about 60km before Rouergai.
Raptors would provide highlights throughout the day. Upland Buzzards were seen regularly. Cinereous Vultures were also seen fairly regularly, first in the company of a Himalayan Griffon, as well as over Ruoergai itself, where I also found a dead one next to the petrol station. A couple of Eurasian Kestrels were along the road and a female Hen Harrier and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk were in Ruoergai. The White-tailed Eagle was easily the raptor of the day until we neared Ruoergai and found a spectacular pair of Saker Falcons, harassed by and harassing a pair of Common Ravens.
Four birds were particularly abundant throughout the day: Horned Lark, Oriental Skylark, Plain Mountain Finch and Twite. It wasn’t until nearly the end of the day that I would finally find something different among them; it came in the form of a couple very cooperative White-rumped Snowfinches in a group of Horned Lark and Twite (just like the field guide says, they were in a pika colony). Other interesting sightings along the road included a pair of Common Pheasant, the male positively glowing in the sunlight; White-winged Redstart, one stunning male and four females; and a Little Owl.
March 8: Ruoergai to Zhangzai (Jouzhaigou).
A Chinese Gray Shrike was among the first birds seen as we left Rouergai and set off to depart the Tibetan Plateau for Jouzhaigou. We had to take the new road because of the poor condition of the old road this time of year. We stopped to have our roadside breakfast next to a couple valleys in the Plateau that contained a few small shrubs. I heard a tit calling far up the valley and hurried up only to see a White-browed Tit flying away. Fortunately it landed on a bush for a few moments—allowing me to slightly catch my breath—before moving on. I walked laterally across the mountain into the next valley, which had a few more bushes. A good sized flock of rosefinches flew in which turned out to be Beautiful Rosefinches; they would prove to be common throughout the day. The valley seemed to be filled with Kessler’s Thrushes (about 70) and Robin Accentors (about 25). In with the Kessler’s Thrushes was a Dark-throated Thrush that appeared to be an intergrade between atrigularis and ruficollis. At first glance it looked just like atrigularis, but upon closer inspection it showed rufous inner webs to the tail feathers, seen well as it flew directly away from me. I got much better looks at a group of the beautiful White-browed Tit. At one point a very small bird flew into a bush next to me, indeed it was white-browed, but this time a White-browed Tit-Warbler. One of my most wanted birds in Sichuan, it was an absolute joy watching two males and a female of this stunning species feeding in small bushes and on the snow-free ground at the base of the bushes, giving their strident calls. Other birds in the valleys were Godlewski’s Bunting, Hume’s Groundpecker and Plain Mountain Finch.
Finally we made our way off the Tibetan Plateau. We only stopped once before reaching Chuanzhusi, where we had lunch. We stopped initially to photograph some Elliot’s Laughingthrushes by the roadside, but some soft twittering got my attention. I went over to investigate and found a group of four or five Crested Tit-Warblers, the other incredible Sichuan representative of this outrageous and colorful genus. Two tit-warblers in a matter of hours! The town of Chuanzhusi held Giant Laughingthrush and a flock of Beautiful Rosefinch.
After lunch we began our descent to Jouzhaigou in earnest. After the initial part of the drive to secondary habitats, much of remaining drive descending Ganggongling Pass is through great forest. We stopped a few times. The first stop yielded a very large mixed flock that contained a meager four species, including an unfathomable number of Rufous-vented Tits. The other members of the flock that I saw were Gray-crested Tit, White-browed Rosefinch, and a cracking pair of Crested Tit-Warblers.
Further down the road another flock contained Eurasian Nuthatch and Coal Tit (but mostly Rufous-vented Tits and a handful of Gray-cresteds) and a White-throated Dipper was along the river in the same area. Another stop at 2700m yielded a lively pair of the endemic Sooty Tit and a Daurien Redstart in riparian scrub and a wonderful Chinese (Snowy-browed) Nuthatch in a young spruce. Our first Brown Dipper was in the river at 2100m. A little further down in an area of mixed forest was a small group of tits comprised of a pair of Green-backed Tits and a pair of Black-bibbed (Marsh) Tits, making for a seven Parid day.
We arrived in Zhangzai, the town that is the gateway to Jouzhaigou—and is often referred to by that name in trip reports—with plenty of sunlight left, so we decided to investigate the scrubby hillside on the east side of the town. This turned out to be a great decision and yielded some excellent birds. We first walked through a weedy empty lot next to the Travel China Hotel, finding good numbers of Beautiful Rosefinches, a few Rufous-breasted Accentors and Godlewski’s Bunting and a male Common Pheasant that nearly gave me a heart attack at it flushed from underfoot.
We found a nice trail up the hillside beyond an unfinished road that starts behind the same hotel. Plain Laughingthrush was the first bird seen on the hillside, followed shortly thereafter by a hyperactive group of Spectacled Fulvettas. We would later get extremely good looks at these birds, which are far more distinctive than illustrated, with a rufous cap to match their rump and wings, pale gray head sides and a snowy white throat. There appeared to be a good-sized flock of birds further up the hillside, so we hurried up. It turned out to be a flock of Spectacled Parrotbills! There were lots of birds around the same area, including another Sooty Tit, a lone Spectacled Fulvetta, a couple Great Tits and a strange male rosefinch with white outertail feathers that I photographed but have yet to identify. Another surprise was a brilliant male White-browed Tit-Warbler, in remarkably different habitat than I had seen it in this morning, which was nice enough to sit so one of my guides was able to have an excellent look in the scope.
We ended this fantastic day with one last new bird, a White-capped Water Redstart along the river that runs through the town.
9 March: Jouzhaigou.
My driver wanted to take me to a place where he often takes birders above Zhangzai before heading to the park. It turned out to be similar habitat to what I had walked through the evening before, so the birds were quite similar, including a Spectacled Fulvetta with a group of tits that included Black-bibbed (Marsh), Dark-throated Thrush (ruficollis), White-throated Redstart and hordes of Beautiful Rosefinches and a handful of White-browed. A nice addition was a vocal and showy group of Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babblers. A Chestnut Thrush was the first since Wolong. Common Pheasants were indeed common, so far having evaded the hunters we saw walking up the same path.
We arrived at the park and boarded the bus up the valley at about 9:30. Another Chestnut Thrush was at the park entrance. We decided to go to the right valley (right from the main junction at Nuorling Waterfall) since that was where the first bus was going. On the bus ride up it became quite clear that Jiuzhaigou’s reputation for natural beauty was well deserved, the scenery and the lakes were absolutely stunning.
Unfortunately, this is a tough time of year for birding in the park. We didn’t find out until we were part way up that no buses were going further than Arrow Bamboo Lake, thus getting to the Primeval Forest was out of the question. In addition, nobody was allowed to walk in the forest—all of the boardwalks and walkways were barricaded—it being the ‘fire protection period’ at the moment. Naturally, this proved quite frustrating.
Anyway, we arrived at Arrow Bamboo Lake and began walking up the road, which would be very quiet without traffic. We were soon stopped by a guard, but Maggie talked our way past. A few minutes later however, a ranger drove past and told us to we weren’t allowed past the lake. Evidently he was quite serious; he radioed for a bus to come pick us up.
We were driven to Five Flowers Lake, where we couldn’t really get anywhere because of the barricades; Pearl Shoals was the same, except for the scenic boardwalk filled with tourists. We did manage to find a few flocks in the meantime, largely comprised of tits. The only trip bird added was a Winter Wren, but we also saw Crested Tit-Warbler, Coal, Sooty and Rufous-vented Tits, Goldcrest, Bar-tailed Treecreeper, and the ubiquitous Elliot’s Laughingthrush.
We made our way back to Nuorling for lunch, then caught a bus up to Long Lake (the left fork), which was still completely frozen. This time I found a way around the lakeside barricade (going counterclockwise around the lake) and wandered around the hillside above the lake. It was tough going over very soggy ground between patches of snow through fairly thick brush. I decided to turn back and on my way back I found a decent trail that eventually followed a water pipe all the way back to the toilet block. As I hit a flat, open length of trail I saw a large dark bird scurry off. Fortunately he came back across, this time followed by six of his friends, and I was able to get superb looks at five male and two female Blood Pheasants. The only other birds seen in the area were a lovely pair of Crested Tit-Warblers, Large-billed Crow and White Wagtail.
We stopped a few more times on the way down, below Nourling. We never really found a good way to access the forest with all of the boardwalks boarded up and saw few birds.
A Plumbeous Water Redstart was along the river near the park entrance when we left and a White-throated Dipper was along the river as we passed through town. Returning to the hotel with plenty of daylight remaining, I again visited the scrub next to the Travel China Hotel, finding a similar selection of birds as the previous day.
10 March: Zhangzha to Chengdu.
Today was a travel day with few stops. We stopped along the road a couple times as we ascended Ganggongling Pass from Jiuzhaigou to Chuanzhesi, but only found a typical tit flock, with Coal, Rufous-vented and Gray-crested Tits, a few Crested Tit-Warblers and couple unidentified treecreepers.
Most of the drive was through dry valleys with scrubby hillsides, getting smoggier the lower we got. A stop for lunch yielded the only Black Redstarts of the trip, two females in the restaurant complex’s garden, plus Oriental (Gray-capped) Greenfinch. A gas stop a bit later on yielded the only Eurasian Hoopoe for the trip as well the first Crested Mynas, plus a Little Bunting.
11 March: Chengdu to Emei Shan.
Much of the morning was spent driving to Emei Shan. Dense smog meant low visibility all the way from Chengdu to Emei. We stopped for a rest as Ten Fu’s Tea Garden, which had some dense scrub on a hillside behind the rest area. I found several trip firsts there, all of which would be repeated later in the day at Emei Shan, as well as Ashy-throated Parrotbill.
We arrived at Emei, parked at the hotel (where a Red-billed Starling was perched in a nearby treetop), and walked along the river through town to lunch. Plumbeous and White-capped Water Redstarts were common along the river, as were Black-throated Tit, Chinese Bulbul, White-browed Laughingthrush and Eurasian Blackbird. It soon became clear that Red-billed Leiothrix would be the most common bird in the area and I would be spending considerable time sorting through leiothrix flocks, one of which yielded a small group of Blue-winged Minla. Brownish-flanked Bush-Warblers were heard and seen along the river as well; they would prove to be common in the area.
After lunch, we spent a lovely afternoon walking around the lower temples of Emei Shan, from Baoguo Temple to Hufu Monastery, then up the many steps to Shanjue Temple, at 760m. Shanjue was best for birding, by far the quietest (away from the construction and crowds of the others) and set in a nice bit of forest.
A Rufous-faced Warbler was near Baoguo. A pair of Slaty-backed Forktails was in the river below Hufu, where a flock of leiothrix contained a number of Blue-winged Minlas and a gorgeous pair of Red-tailed Minlas. Tits were abundant, as usual, with Great, Yellow-bellied, Green-backed and Yellow-browed all common. Mountain Bulbuls were also common, with a few Collared Finchbills mixed in. Great Barbets sang persistently from an emergent bare tree allowing for nice views.
We reached Shanjue Temple and took a few side trails which proved quiet aside from a few squirrels and a group of Elliot’s Laughingthrushes. We arrived back at the temple and Maggie noticed a few birds feeding in nearby trees. I quickly got on them and was pleasantly surprised to see three Vinaceous Rosefinches, two females and a male, at this very low elevation (760m). Soon after starting our way down we ran into another mixed flock, containing (of course) Red-billed Leiothrix with a good number of Gray-cheeked Fulvettas and the diminutive Rufous-capped Babbler, which we had earlier heard singing. Two pairs of Chinese Bamboo Partridge were great to see and a Gray-faced (Gray-headed) Woodpecker called loudly from near the top of the tallest tree around.
Arriving back to the bottom of the hill near dusk, several Pygmy Wren-Babblers started singing their very distinctive song and I eventually was able to get very good looks at this remarkable bird. It was a great way to end the day.
12 March: Emei Shan (Wannian).
A Himalayan Swiftlet, the only swift for the trip, was over the bus station at the base of Emei Shan. We caught a bus up to the Wannian cable car station at 800m. Thinking we were clever and escaping the crowds, we decided to walk up to Wannian Monastery. Unfortunately, there was a constant stream of people and donkeys carrying materials up the mountain. Further, the path managed to impressively avoid going through any forest. Birds seen included a flock of Ashy-throated Parrotbill and Rufous-capped Babbler, Red-billed Blue Magpie, a singing male Yellow-throated Bunting and an impressive singing Hwamei that a number of laborers checked out through my scope.
Reaching the temple (1000m) we skirted around the edge and followed the paved walkway (really a staircase) towards the Golden Summit. It was mostly deserted and we spent the day running into few people. Birds were relatively scarce, but seeing two large mixed flocks meet and temporarily form a sort of super flock was pretty cool. Gray-cheeked Fulvetta and Red-billed Leiothrix formed the bulk of the flock (roughly 40 and 25, respectively). Also traveling with one flock or the other were Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Speckled Piculet, Crested Finchbill, Eurasian Nuthatch, Rufous-capped Babbler, Red-tailed Minla, Yellow-browed Tit and Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, but unfortunately no Emei Leocichla. In the same area were Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Black-chinned Yuhina and a furtive Moustached Laughingthrush.
A few more flocks were seen higher up—we made it to about 1300m—that were consistently dominated by Gray-cheeked Fulvetta. Spot-breasted and Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babblers were seen together at one point. On the way back down I took a couple of side trails, one of which I followed to a scolding sound that turned out to be a beautiful pair of Moustached Laughingthrushes in some viny undergrowth in a forest clearing. I even managed a few digiscoped images of this skulker. Another side trail led to a small flock made up of Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler and a pair of Dusky Fulvettas.
We finished our birding for the day on the ‘pipeline trail’ that follows several pipelines from behind the Wannian Temple, but finding no birds.
13 March: Emei Shan (Wannian).
With only half a day for birding not allowing enough time to reach the Golden Summit, we returned to Wannian Temple to walk the pipeline trail, where despite not seeing anything the previous afternoon it looked promising. To find this trail, walk around the temple wall to the right. Where the wall turns, take the staircase on the left up and over a small hill and back down the other side where the obvious trail starts.
The going was slow at first, but another pair of Moustached Laughingthrushes was a treat. At least four different Collared Owlets were calling all along the trail (the first in response to playback), but none would show themselves. Some calls led me to climb up a steep hillside, finding a group of Gray-headed Parrotbills and two singing Dusky Fulvettas. By this time we had to turn head back. On the walk back we came upon a flock of Striated Yuhinas with at least one Black-chinned Yuhina mixed in as well as a large group of Gray-headed Parrotbills.
Nearly back to the temple, some movement along the side of the trail caught my attention and I soon saw the brilliant crimson wings and tail of a Red-winged Laughingthrush flying between patches of dense scrub. Following this pair along the trail, eventually getting stellar views of one of the pair, they led me straight to a massive mixed flock. Traveling in the undergrowth with the laughingthrushes were both Spot-breasted and Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babblers as well as what was undoubtedly the same pair of Moustached Laughingthrushes seen in the same area a few hours prior. Gray-cheeked Fulvetta was the flock’s most numerous bird; searching through them revealed a pair of Green Shrike-Babblers as well as a number of species I had seen regularly in the area, including Red-tailed Minla. A familiar sounding sharp call note made me look up to see a male Slaty Bunting perch in the open, my first since my first day of the trip in Chengdu. Better still, however, was when a gray bird hopped out of some bushes on the ground. It’s bright red wing stripes gave it away—an Emei (Gray-faced) Leocichla that posed brilliantly in the open, looking only superficially like the field guide illustration. All told, the flock contained sixteen species, the most diverse I has seen in China.
With that, we caught the cable car back to the carpark. Waiting for the bus, a flock of Asian House Martins whirled overhead and my first Eurasian Jays for the trip showed up in a tea plantation. Back in Emei, a group of Red-rumped Swallows and Himalayan Swiftlets was flying over the hotel. The last bit of birding was done along the river in town and on the campus of the local university, finding one last trip bird, a Gray Wagtail, as well as Ashy-throated Warbler, Collared Finchbill, Ashy-throated Parrotbill, Yellow-bellied Tit and a few other common species.
Taxonomy follows Clements (2007), The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 6th Edition. with alternate names in parentheses. 189 species seen and an additional three heard.
-Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis Only seen in and around Chengdu.
-Gray Heron Ardea cinerea Along the Yadzi He near Chengdu.
-Little Egret Egretta garzetta Common in the lower elevation areas around Chengdu and Emei Shan
-Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu
-Graylag Goose Anser anser One near Waqie on the Tibetan Plateau
-Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea First seen along the Yadzi He near Chendu and also seen a few times on the Tibetan Plateau
-Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope Around Chengdu, including Century City Lake and the Yadzi He
-Gadwall A. strepera Along the Yadzi He near Chengdu
-Eurasian (Common) Teal A. crecca Along the Yadzi He and also a couple of times on the Tibetan Plateau
-Mallard A. platyrhynchos
-Spot-billed Duck A. poecilorhyncha One flock on the Yadzi He near Chengdu
-Northern Pintail A. acuta One male with a flock of ducks on the Yadzi He
-Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina One male with a duck flock on the Yadzi He
-Common Pochard Aythya ferina One female on Century City Lake near Chengdu
-Ferruginous Duck A. nyroca A large flock on Century City Lake near Chengdu
-Baer’s Pochard A. baeri Probably the surprise of the trip was a male of this Vulnerable species on Century City Lake near Chengdu. Apparently up to three had been present for the last month. I saw it on the last day of its visit; I returned the next day and it was gone and I was told by a local birder that it wasn’t seen again.
-Tufted Duck A. fuligula A small group on Century City Lake with other Aythya ducks
-Common Merganser Mergus merganser Along the Yadzi He, near Waqie on the Tibetan Plateau, and at Jiuzhaigou
-Black (Black-eared) Kite Milvus (lineatus) migrans Only a couple seen, singles on the Tibetan Plateau
-White-tailed Eagle Haliaetus albicilla A beautiful adult on the Tibetan Plateau near Waqie
-Lammergeier Gypeatus barbatus One adult between Maerkang and Hongyuan
-Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis A few on the Tibetan Plateau
-Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus Seen several times on the Tibetan Plateau, including over Ruoergai. One also found dead in Ruoergai.
-Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus One seen in Ruoergai. A few unidentified Accipiter at higher elevations were probably this species.
-Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo A couple dark morph Buteo around Jiuzhaigou were probably this species.
-Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius Fairly common on the Tibetan Plateau between Hongyuan and Ruoergai. One was seen sitting on a nest.
-Northern (Hen) Harrier Circus cyaneus Seen several times on the Tibetan Plateau and once at Jiuzhaigou
-Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos One juvenile seen just after entering the Tibetan Plateau between Maerkang and Hongyuan
-Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus A few on the Tibetan Plateau
-Saker Falcon Falco cherrug A beautiful pair between Maerkang and Ruoergai
-Chinese Bamboo-Partridge Bambusicola thoracica First seen at the Panda Breeding Center near Chengdu. Also seen at Emei Shan.
-Blood Pheasant Ithaginis cruenus A group of seven seen near Long Lake in Jiuzhaigou
-Koklass Pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha Four seen an another heard at Zhegu Mountain near Maerkang
-Ring-necked (Common) Pheasant Phasianus colchicus First seen on the Tibetan Plateau between Hongyuan and Ruoergai. Common in scrub near Jiuzhaigou.
-Golden Pheasant Chrysolophus pictus Two females in the scrub above Sawan. We also dismantled three traps presumably intended for this species nearby.
-Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
-Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus One near the edge of the Tibetan Plateau between Maerkang and Hongyuan
-Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius A couple in the Yadzi He near Chengdu
-Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago Several snipe along the Yadzi He were probably this species.
-Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia One in the Yadzi He
-Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus One in Chengdu
-Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos Near Chengdu
-Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii One on the Yadzi He was surprising
-Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus One flew over near Waqie on the Tibetan Plateau
-Rock Pigeon Columba livia
-Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris A couple small groups seen between 2500-3700m
-Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota Two fairly large groups seen just over Balang Shan Pass from Wolong
-Oriental Turtle-Dove Streptopelia orientalis A few at the Chengdu Botanical Gardens
-Spotted Dove S. chinensis Common in low-lying areas
-Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei Heard near Wannian Temple at Emei Shan
-Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides First head above Wannian Temple at Emei Shan and later heard in Emei town
-Little Owl Athene noctua A couple seen sitting on phone wires on the Tibetan Plateau
-Himalayan Swiftlet Aerodramus brevirostris Emei town
-Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis Seen twice in and around Chengdu
-Hoopoe Upupa epops One near Chengdu
-Great Barbet Megalaima virens Seen and heard near Shanjue Temple at Emei Shan and also heard near Wannian Temple
-Speckled Piculet Picumnus innominatus Seen regularly with mixed flocks near Wannian Temple at Emei Shan
-Rufous-bellied Woodpecker Dendrocopos hyperythrus One at the Panda Breeding Center near Chengdu
-Great Spotted Woodpecker D. major One in a Tibetan village between Balang Shan and Maerkang
-Gray-faced (Gray-headed) Woopecker Picus canus A pair at Wolong and another one near Shanjue Temple at Emei Shan. The east Asian birds are likely a separate species from European and west Asian birds.
-Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula Common on the Tibetan Plateau
-Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris Common on the Tibetan Plateau
-Bank Swallow (Sand Martin) Riparia riparia A fewRiparia martins along the Yadzi He showed distinct breast bands typical of this species
-Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Common
-Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica A small flock on my last morning in Emei town may have been recently arrived migrants
-Asian (House) Martin Delichon dasypus Seen in Wolong and at Wannian in Emei Shan
-White Wagtail Motacilla alba Common, seen as high as 3000m at Jiuzhaigou. Note that the China field guide only confuses the already confusing situation in the M. alba complex.
-Rosy Pipit Anthus roseatus Fairly large numbers of heavily streaked pipits with secondary edges in the Yadzi He near Chengdu were probably this species.
-Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitoques Common, seen as high as 2100m above Sawan and as low as Emei town.
-Light-vented (Chinese) Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis Common in low-lying areas, especially in Chengdu and Emei town.
-Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii Common at Emei Shan
-Goldcrest Regulus regulus Common with mixed flocks at higher elevations, above about 2000m
-White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus Seen first on drive from Chengdu to Wolong. Also seen in Zhangzha.
-Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii Seen in and near Zhangzha
-Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes Seen at Jiuzhaigou and along the river in Zhangzha
-Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides Common in scrubby areas in the Tibetan Plateau, especially around settlements
-Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata Common between 2000 (Zhangzha)-3600m (Balang Shan), though seemingly replaced on the Tibetan Plateau by Robin Accentor
-Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens Two in Langriba village on the Tibetan Plateau
-Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula The large east Asian subspecies are often split as separate species.
-Chestnut Thrush Turdus rubrocanus First seen in the scrub above Sawan and later in the scrub above Zhangzha and at the base of Jiuzhaigou
-Dark-throated (Red-throated) Thrush T. r. ruficollis Seen on the Tibetan Plateau (e.g. in Hongyuan) and at Zhangzha. One with a flock of White-backed Thrushes appeared to be an integrade between ruficollis and atrogularis.
-White-backed (Kessler’s) Thrush T. kessleri Common at high elevations; seen first as Zhegu Mountain at 3500m and various places on the Tibetan Plateau, including in Hongyuan. Females of this species are not nearly as well marked as shown in the China field guide.
-Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis One heard near Chengdu
-Plain Prinia Prinia inornata A couple in the scrub around Century City Lake near Chengdu
-Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler Cettia fortipes Common around Emei town and the lower parts of Emei Shan.
-White-browed Tit-Warbler Leptopoecile sophiae One of the highlights of the trip was finding a group of these feeding between patches of snow at about 3700m on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau before dropping down towards Ruoergai. Another male was seen at 2000m in the scrub above Zhangzha.
-Crested Tit-Warbler L. elegans Another stunning bird that was common in evergreen and mixed forest between about 2700-3600m, especially in the vicinity of Jiuzhaigou. With most tit flocks in the area.
-Buff-throated Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher Two in the scrub around Century City Lake near Chengdu were calling.
-Ashy-throated Warbler P. maculipennis One in a city park in Chengdu and one in Emei town
-Sichuan Leaf-Warbler P. forresti What were probably this species were seen in parks in Chengdu
-Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis First seen in a park in Chengdu, another was seen at Baoguo Temple at Emei Shan.
-Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis Common in secondary habitats in low-lying areas
-Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros Two females in a garden near Chengdu were the only ones seen
-White-throated Redstart P. schisticeps Common between 2000m (Zhangzha) and 3500m (Balang Shan and Zhegu). Sometimes with mixed flocks.
-Daurian Redstart P. auroreus One near the Chengdu Botanical Gardens and one near Jiuzhaigou
-White-winged Redstart P. erythrogaster One male and four females seen over the course a couple hours on the Tibetan Plateau not far from Ruoergai were the only ones seen
-Blue-fronted Redstart P. frontalis One near the Chengdu Botanical Gardens was the only one seen.
-White-capped (Water-)Redstart Chaimarrornis leucocephalus One seen in Zhangzha
and common at Emei Shan
-Plumbeous Redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosus Common along streams in the area mostly in lower elevation areas, seen as high as about 1800m in Wolong.
-Grandala Grandala coelicolor Another trip highlight was seeing a lone male at Zhegu Mountain after not seen any at Balang Shan
-Little Forktail Enicurus scouleri One seen in a river in Wolong at about 1800m.
-Slaty-backed Forktail E. schistaceus A pair below Hufu Monastery at Emei Shan.
-White-throated Laughingthrush Garrulax albogularis The only one seen was one with a flock of White-browed Laughingthrushes at the Panda Breeding Center near Chengdu
-Pere David’s (Plain) Laughingthrush G. davidi Common and conspicuous in scrubby areas of the Tibetan Plateau, often in the company of Robin Accentor. Seen as low as 2000m in the scrub above Zhangzha.
-Moustached Laughingthrush G. cineraceus Several pairs seen around Wannian Temple at Emei Shan, occasionally with understory mixed flocks.
-Spotted Laughingthrush G. ocellatus Only one individual seen, at the Panda Center in Wolong
-Giant Laughingthrush G. maximus Fairly common in scrubby areas around the edge of the Tibetan Plateau.
-Hwamei G. canorus One seen between the Wannian Bus Station and the temple at Emei Shan
-White-browed Laughingthrush G. sannio Common and conspicuous in Chengdu and Emei town. Very confiding.
-Elliot’s Laughingthrush G. elliotii One of the most frequently encountered birds, seen in scrubby habitats from 700m (Emei Shan) to 3500m (Balang Shan and Zhegu).
-Black-faced Laughingthrush G. affinis Only seen in the scrub above Sawan
-Red-winged Laughingthrush G. formosus A pair was with a mixed flock along the pipeline trail behind Wannian Temple at Emei Shan
-Gray-faced (Emei) Liocichla Liocichla omeiensis One was seen with a large mixed flock behind Wannian Temple at Emei Shan
-Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler Pomatohinus erythrocnemis First seen in the scrub above Zhangzha. Also seen around Wannian Temple at Emei Shan.
-Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler P. ruficollis Common in low-lying areas. First seen at the Panda Breeding Center near Chengdu and later seen many times, especially with mixed flocks, at Emei Shan.
-Pygmy Wren-Babbler Pnoepyga pusilla One seen well and many heard between Baoguo Temple and Emei town. One was calling early one morning in the courtyard of my hotel at the base of Emei Shan.
-Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyris ruficeps First heard in a city park in Chengdu. Later found to be common with understory flocks at Emei Shan.
-Chinese Babax Babax lanceolatus One pair behind the main tourist hotel in Sawan
-Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea Common at Emei Shan and in Emei town
-Green Shrike-Babbler Pteruthius zanthochlorus One pair with a large mixed flock behind Wannian Temple at Emei Shan
-Blue-winged Minla Minla cyanouroptera Seen with mixed flocks in Emei town and below Hufu Monastery at Emei Shan
-Red-tailed Minla Minla ignotincta Fairly common with mixed flocks at Emei Shan.
-Golden-breasted Fulvetta Alcippe chrysotis A small group was with a mixed flock above Wannian Temple at Emei Shan
-Spectacled Fulvetta A. ruficapilla Seen a couple times in the scrub above Zhangzha
-Streak-throated Fulvetta A. cinereiceps Fairly common at higher elevations, seen from 2000m (above Sawan) to 3500m (near Jiuzhaigou and Zhegu Mtn)
-Dusky Fulvetta A. brunnea Seen twice near Wannian Temple at Emei Shan
-Gray-cheeked Fulvetta A. morrisonia Very common at Emei Shan, seen from below Shanjue Temple to above Wannian Temple. The most numerous species in mixed flocks in this area.
-White-collared Yuhina Yuhina diademata A small group seen with a mixed flock above Sawan.
-Striated Yuhina Y. castaniceps One group along pipeline trail behind Wannian Temple at Emei Shan
-Black-chinned Yuhina Y. nigrimenta One with a group of Striated Yuhinas along pipeline trail behind Wannian Temple at Emei Shan
-Gray-headed Parrotbill Paradoxornis gularis Two groups along pipeline trail behind Wannian Temple at Emei Shan
-Spectacled Parrotbill P. conspicillatus One group in the scrub above Zhangzha
-Vinous-throated Parrotbill P. webbianus Seen a few times in parks in and around Chengdu, including at the Panda Breeding Center
-Ashy-throated Parrotbill P. alphonsianus First seen in a city park in Chengdu, then seen in a mixed group with Vinous-throated Parrotbills at the Panda Breeding Center near Chengdu, then found to be common at Emei Shan in secondary habitats. This bird shows a pale eye, unlike its illustration in the field guide.
-Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus Common in low-lying areas, including parks in and around Chengdu and Emei town and Emei Shan.
-Black-browed Tit A. iouschistos One group seen while descending down Balang Shan pass, another was seen later in the same day in dry scrub
-Sooty Tit A. fuliginosus Common in and around Jiuzhaigou, seen from roughly 2000m-3000m.
-Black-bibbed Tit Poecile hypermalaenus ‘Marsh’ Tits that were probably this species were seen a couple of times in dry scrub and mixed forest near Zhangzha
-Songar Tit P. songara Seen several times in spruce forest, usually around 3500m, incuding Zhegu Mtn and another forest near Maerkang.
-White-browed Tit P. superciliosa Several were seen in a scrubby valley at the edge of Tibetan Plateau between Ruoergai and Jiuzhaigou
-Coal Tit Periparus ater First seen in Chengdu. Fairly common around Jiuzhaigou, seen at elevations from 2100-3200m.
-Rufous-vented Tit P. rubidiventris Common in and around Jiuzhaigou, seen at elevations from 2500-3600m.
-Yellow-bellied Tit Pardaliparus venustulus Common in low-lying areas such as in and around Chendgu, Emei town and Emei Shan
-Gray-crested Tit Lophophanes dichous Common at higher elevations throughout.
-Great Tit Parus major Common just about everywhere, from low-lying areas of Chengdu and Emei town to the Tibetan Plateau
-Green-backed Tit P. monticolus Common, mostly in lower areas, seen as high as 2000m above Zhangzha.
-Yellow-browed Tit Sylviparus modestus Common, first seen in a city park in Chengdu and later common at Emei town and Emei Shan.
-Ground Tit (Hume’s Groundpecker) Pseudopodoces humilis Many of this fantastic bird were seen on the Tibetan Plateau.
-Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europea First seen at Wolong and later seen near Jiuzhaigou and at Emei Shan. Seen from 1000-2000m.
-Snowy-browed (Chinese) Nuthatch S. villosa One seen near Jiuzhaigou
-Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris One in Hongyuan on the Tibetan Plateau
-Bar-tailed Treecreeper C. himalayana A couple in mixed flocks at fairly high elevations, between 2500-3500m. Not all treecreepers were identified.
-Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach Common in low-lying agricultural and scrubby areas
-Chinese Gray Shrike L. sphenocercus Four individuals seen on the Tibetan Plateau
-Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius Two at the Wannian Bus Station at Emei Shan
-Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus Common on the Tibetan Plateau
-(Red-billed) Blue Magpie Urocissa erythrorhyncha Seen in Wolong and the walk from Wannian Bus Station to the temple
-Eurasian Magpie Pica pica First seen at a park in Chengdu, but most common on the Tibetan Plateau
-Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax Balang Shan Pass
-Yellow-billed Chough P. graculus Balang Shan Pass, together with Red-billed Chough
-Daurian Jackdaw C. dauuricus Fairly common in the Tibetan Plateau. A large number of first-cycle birds were evident, which I originally thought were Eurasian Jackdaws. Thanks to Richard Klim for setting me straight.
-Large-billed Crow C. macrorhynchos Common and rather widespread, mostly at higher elevations
-Common Raven C. corax Fairly common on the Tibetan Plateau
-Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus Seen only in agricultural areas in low-lying areas on the drive from Jiuzhaigou to Chengdu
-Red-billed Starling Sternus sericeus One in Emei town
-European (Common) Starling S. vulgaris One in a town near Hongyuan on the Tibetan Plateau
-White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata Common around Emei town and the base of Emei Shan
-Slaty Bunting Latoucheornis seimsseni Several at the Chendgu Bontanical Gardens on my first day in China, then a male with a large mixed flock behind Wannian Temple at Emei Shan
-Godlewski’s Bunting Emberiza godlewskii Common in scrubby areas, seen as low as 1300m on the drive from Jiuzhaigou to Chengdu and as high as 3500m in several places.
-Little Bunting E. pusilla A couple in scrubby areas in and around Chengdu
-Yellow-throated Bunting E. chrysophrys One female near the Chengdu Botanical Gardens and a singing male between the Wannian Bus Station and the temple at Emei Shan.
-Plain Mountain-Finch Leucosticte nemoricola Common in flocks on the Tibetan Plateau
-Black-headed (Brandt’s) Mountain-Finch L. brandti A flock was near the top of Balang Shan Pass
-Brambling Fringilla montifringilla About 5 or 6 with Oriental Greenfinches at the Chengdu Botanical Gardens
-(Chinese) Beautiful Rosefinch Carpodacus pulcherrimus (davidianus) Common in flocks between about 2000m (Zhangzha) and 3600m (edge of Tibetan Plateau). The most numerous rosefinch seen. Chinese birds are likely a separate species from Himalayan birds.
-Pink-rumped Rosefinch C. eos Some birds that were likely this species were seen at Zhegu Mtn.
-Vinaceous Rosefinch C. vinaceus A group of two females and a male were at Shanjue Temple at Emei Shan at 760m.
-Three-banded Rosefinch C. trifasciatus First seen in dense fog at km92 at Balang Shan, seen again at Zhegu Mtn, both times at about 3500m.
-(Chinese) White-browed Rosefinch C. thura (dubius) The most widespread rosefinch, frequently encountered in flocks of 3-8 in scrub and forest, often with mixed flocks, at elevations from 2000m (Zhangzha) to 3500m (several locations).
-Streaked Rosefinch C. rubicilloides One male and two females in separate rosefinch flocks feeding on the road at Zhegu Mtn. at an elevation of 3400m.
-Oriental (Gray-capped) Greenfinch Carduelis sinica Common in low-lying areas of Chengdu, Emei town and Emei Shan. Particularly numerous at the Chengdu Botanical Gardens where hundreds were seen.
-Twite C. flavirostris Very common on the Tibetan Plateau, often in flocks with larks
-Gray-headed Bullfinch Pyrrhula erythaca Several seen in the scrub above Sawan at about 2100m; one lone female was at Zhegu Mtn. at 3500m.
-Yellow-billed (Chinese) Grosbeak Eophona migratoria Only seen in Chengdu, at 100 Flowers Park and Washing Flowers Park
-White-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas camipes Seen well only once, with a mixed flock in spruce forest near Maerkang
-House Sparrow Passer domesticus One with a flock of Eurasian Tree Sparrows in Langriba village on the Tibetan Plateau not too far from Hongyuan
-Eurasian Tree Sparrow P. montanus Common and widespread
-Black-winged (Tibetan) Snowfinch Montifingilla adamsi One with a flock of Plain Mountain-Finches in Longriba village on the Tibetan Plateau
-White-rumped Snowfinch M. taczanowskii Two or three with a flock of Horned Lark, Twite and pika on the Tibetan Plateau on the way to Ruoergai